Randy Alcorn: I was a Pastor starting in 1977, and in the early 1980’s I got on the board of the first Crisis Pregnancy Center in the Pacific Northwest. After a while one of the things that they did was “host homes” where they would take girls who had crisis pregnancies and if they couldn’t go anywhere else you would take them into your home and they would stay with you through the pregnancy. They would have options – if they wanted to adopt, if they wanted to raise the child and get them clothes, and do all of those kinds of things. So, we opened up our home to a girl who was pregnant to live with us and she had an abortion in the past. We didn’t know about that at first. She gave birth to this child and we lined her up with a Christian attorney and she placed the child with a Christian family and did all these kinds of things that Crisis Pregnancy Centers do. And this is where we really got a heart not simply for the babies but for the women.
And then in the late eighties when there was the Rescue movement with peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience on behalf of unborn children where you just simply stand in front of the doors of an abortion clinic – in front of the entrance – and essentially do what the civil rights movement of the sixties did with African Americans in terms of “I will go and sit at this lunch counter even though this lunch counter doesn’t allow blacks to be there” It’s done anyway to make a point – to draw a line in the sand and say, “Look, things have got to change here.” So, that’s what we were doing at abortion clinics. As a result of that there were lawsuits, and I had to resign as a Pastor ultimately because I was involved in about 9 of these. And, again, they were totally peaceful; there was no violence of any sort. But lawsuits started coming and they were going to garnish my wages as a Pastor. So ¼ of my wages as a Pastor every month were going to go to an abortion clinic, and I couldn’t live with that. I told the Judge, “You know anything that you tell me that I owe anybody, I will pay them. But one thing I will not do is write out a check to an abortion clinic because they will use that money to kill children and I can not do that. It would be the violation of my conscience.” So, basically I had to resign as a Pastor to prevent the abortion clinic from getting any money. So, I resigned and now it was “Ok, what can I do now.” Because everywhere else I worked that was anything more than minimum wage they will figure what is above minimum wage and take ¼ of it for the abortion clinic. So, what we decided to do was start a ministry, Eternal Perspective Ministries, and take the things that were closest to our heart – missions and Pro-life work – and expanding my calling that I felt towards writing, and speaking too, but especially writing – and that’s how we started our ministry. Basically, its exactly the way you would almost never plan to start a ministry like this – you just do it. And you do it because you are in this situation, and if we would have plotted it out we probably would have done some things differently. I mean we were a couple of years into it and someone asked, “What’s your purpose statement?” I could tell you what our purpose was, but I couldn’t quote you a purpose statement. People would ask “What’s your motto?”. Well, our motto is 2nd Corinthians 4:18 “…the things which are seen are temporary; but the things which are unseen are eternal.” So, that’s Eternal Perspective Ministries. So, it’s just a small ministry. Besides myself there’s only six other employees, and they range from 20-30 hours each. Really the only full time employee is me and I have two assistants, there’s a secretary, a bookkeeper. We are a 501(c)3 non profit ministry. We have a guy that’s in charge of our shipping because we do a lot of that. Like I said, all the royalties go to different ministries and as a result of books doing very well and being on best sellers lists, the book “Heaven” which came out two years ago has sold 320,000 copies and the royalties now that have come in are about $700,000 of royalties that we’ve given away to all kinds of ministries. There’s dozens of different worthy ministries that we support – missions and otherwise.
Mercy Hope: Would you share: What is the “Treasure Principle” and how do you effectively and practically live that out especially in our culture?
Randy Alcorn: Well, the “Treasure Principle” is a couple of things. There is the physical book, The Treasure Principle which now has sold something like 950,000 copies. The publisher keeps wanting it to go over 1 million copies so that they can say “Over 1 million copies sold.” I don’t minimize book sales. That represents getting into people’s hands, changing their lives, and also royalties that can be given.
The Treasure Principle itself within the book is based on Matthew 6 where Jesus says don’t lay up yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up yourself treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal, because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So, based upon the words of Jesus there the “Treasure Principle” as I’ve stated is: You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead. The idea is that He’s saying, “Look, you can’t take all this stuff with you” But He says, you can lay up treasures for yourself in Heaven. Obviously, He wouldn’t tell us to do it if we couldn’t do it. So, what are those treasures? In some way or another they are eternal rewards that God in His goodness and grace gives us – we don’t deserve rewards, we deserve hell. But if we have been faithful to Him, He says “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.” So, we don’t earn our way to heaven. Good works don’t make us righteous. Only Christ and His death on our behalf – His good works for us make us righteous. I realize Biblically that Ephesians 2 says that these good works were made for us in advance to walk in. “So by grace have you been saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. But we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” And so, God values those good works. So that is one of the themes of The Treasure Principle. Say “No” to good works saving us – they don’t! Say “Yes” to good works that come out of a transformed heart because they are supposed to.
Mercy Hope: If every Believer would really live this out, how do you see that affecting the Church worldwide?
Randy Alcorn: Well, I think it would have a radical affect because I think we would think differently, we would plan differently, we would live our lives differently. We would come to the understanding that material things are not going to fulfill us. It doesn’t matter how much money we make; it doesn’t matter what we do with that money and the pleasures of the world – for good or bad – you know, like homes and businesses. Those things are fine, but they are not going to make us happy. For instance, some people look at the $700,000 royalty has come in on that one book, and it’s one among 26 books. And they wonder “What could you have done with the $700,000 that’s come in?” You know in some parts of the country that would buy an amazing house. In live in one of those areas — in Oregon where I live a $700,000 dollar house would be extravagant. Do I wish I lived in a $700,000 house instead of knowing where the money is going? Not even slightly. Stuff doesn’t matter. I think of the house we have. We don’t live in a dump. It’s a nice enough house. The point is, that’s not going to bring me happiness. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) and if that’s not true, then let’s fold up our tents and go elsewhere and lets not go to Church and lets not do anything because if the words of Jesus aren’t true then the Christian faith is basically a hoax. But if they are true, and, of course, I’m convinced that absolutely they are, then we must believe what Jesus said. When He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive” that word “blessed” in the Greek means “happy making”. Now, it’s a God-given happiness but it is a common Greek word for happiness. “More happy made are those…”; “More happy making is it to give than to receive…”. We’ve all experienced tastes of that. We’ve traveled internationally and we go to some place where very poor people will go out of their way – they might spend a month’s salary – to make you a dinner out of honor and blessing to you and you feel so guilty. But they are doing it out of love and out of the heart; it causes blessing because of their generosity. And you see the smiles on their faces. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
One of the sad things, and I talk about this in The Treasure Principle, Money, Possessions and Eternity, and The Law of Reward – is that the really tragic thing is that the average American Christian gives 2.7% of their income to the cause of Christ – really to any cause. They give away 2.7% of their income. And you think we live by far in the most wealthy society, the most affluent society in human history – We are only giving 2.7%!! 40% of those who profess to be Evangelical Christians give virtually nothing – nothing or virtually nothing! It is so sad. You think of the poorest Israelite was required to tithe. There were actually three tithes – one was the “poor tithe” for giving to the poor. It was taken once every three years and there were two other tithes for the priests and the Levites. So cumulatively those three tithes (but one was just every third year), so cumulatively those in any given year would average 23% of your income. Now, some of that was for government so you could say that it would be more like taxation and all of that. But the tithe for the priests and Levites would be parallel to today in the New Testament economy giving to your local Church. So, let’s just think of tithing as the 10%. So, basically the average Christian is giving something like ¼ of the amount that the poorest Israelite was required to give and then beyond that they had free will offerings. And so they gave probably way more above the average of just 10%. And the sad thing to me is to think of the blessing that we are missing and the honor to Christ that is brought through not holding tightly to the things of this world, letting go and using them for His Kingdom purposes. And that applies not only to giving stuff away, but to being very quick to loan your things to other people and not care about the condition they come back in. I tell story in Treasure Principle about many years ago loaning a little portable stereo to the youth group. Well, you know when you loan anything to the youth group it comes back and it has six dents and half broken. My first reaction was… “Man, that was terrible! I loan something to the youth group and it comes back like this…” No, no – kids came to Christ at that retreat; kids grew in their faith at that retreat. It is a privilege that this little portable stereo that belongs to God in the first place – it wasn’t mine, it’s His – and it was used for His purposes.
I also tell a story in Treasure Principle about how I used to collect books. I mean when my wife and I first got married – when I was still in college and seminary – I had thousands and thousands of books! I loved books and read tons of them, but of course I obviously couldn’t read them all. But I was very happy with my library and proud of my library and all this kind of stuff. Well, then I would find that people would borrow books – which was great, I wanted people to – but I would find that either the books would not come back or they would come back tattered, with the dust jackets gone, and ripped – just beat up. This kind of would bug me, and then I realized “Wait a minute, people are using these books…that’s why they are getting beat up! They are actually reading them.” Then I ended up donating the vast majority of my books to our Church library so that others could use them. Then I would go in and pick these books off the shelf and I would look in the back – where there were the old type cards where you would sign your name when you checked the book out. And I saw name after name after name of people in our Church – sometimes kids in our church – that had checked them out and I would get tears in my eyes. Because this book which I owned and had given to the Church – because really God had owned – now I was taking joy in it. And you know what I found? The more battered the book, the more joy there was. Because they were battered because of all who had used it. There was this one and it was really shabby and I took it out – and I knew what would happen – and I flipped to the back and it was like 36 people had checked that book out – that’s why it got battered! Now I look at a book in the perfect condition and see how many people have checked it out – none! So, it’s a paradigm shift. It’s a different way of thinking.
Mercy Hope: Absolutely. Wess Stafford really got me thinking about the fact that a lot of people tend to look down to the poor and he says whenever he is around the poor, he always looks up. What are some of the lessons that you see we can learn from the poor?
Randy Alcorn: Well, first of all when you look at Scripture we see that the greatest examples of giving are from poor people. You know, you ask anyone who knows the Bible who first comes to your mind when you think of an example of a person who gave generously. Who comes to your mind?
Mercy Hope: The widow with the two sheckles.
Randy Alcorn: Exactly. The poor widow who gives the two sheckles, and it says she gave all she had to live on. So you have this woman who gave these two sheckles – that’s it! And there’s all kinds of religious leaders who are coming by and they are contributing large amounts making sure everybody sees them. But Jesus says she gave more than all the others – it was less but it was more. Less is more because it is proportion. When we give we must not just think in terms of how much we give, but how much we keep. So here’s this wonderful example.
The greatest example in Scripture of a group of people who are giving are the Churches of Macedonia. In 2 Corinthians 8 it says that the Churches of Macedonia have given according to their ability, then it says they have given beyond their ability which if you think about is pretty hard to do. How do you give beyond your ability? But the point is that out of their extreme poverty it welled up in rich generosity and it has the concept of joy and grace – all of this out of the joy in the midst of their poverty they do this gracious giving. And so the poor are the greatest examples of giving because when a poor person gives, the giving has more meaning to it. And then Jesus is put forward in 2nd Corinthians 8:9 – a great passage on giving – “For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich yet for our sake He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich.” So Jesus is the most generous giver and He has given more, and we need to be come like Him in our giving. Jesus comes into the world as a poor person who relates to people – especially having the carpentry trade – He might have had an average living – which by our standards would still be very poor. In that culture maybe it was middle class to be a carpenter, we don’t know. But once He and His disciples went around they were dependent on these gifts of women that are mentioned that gave to them and all. And “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…”, you know….just go find a rock, you know. So the point is that great givers in Scripture are poor. So what we learn from the poor is that you don’t need a lot of stuff in order to be happy.
One of the illustrations that I use in one of our books is: Go to Mexico and see 30 kids kicking around a beat up old rubber ball that is half inflated and having a blast with smiles on their faces. Now, go to a junior soccer league in the United States where every body is dressed up in these soccer outfits; where the shoes they are wearing cost (you fill in the blank)….whatever. The outfits all together are hundreds of dollars that they have put into this. Top grade soccer ball, all this kind of stuff, and sometimes – not always, because American kids can have joy playing soccer too – but it isn’t uncommon to have kids standing around whining about this and that, and “it’s raining today”, and their parents are on the sidelines yelling. And you just go, “Ok, which culture has the most stuff?…and which culture has the more smiling faces?” And there’s actually a study that was done about countries’ and peoples’ levels of happiness based on different surveys. Mexico was very high; United States was quite a ways down on it, and I don’t remember all the people in between. But it was a fascinating study because when you started comparing income and all that you say it doesn’t make sense. Now, by that I would never glorify poverty – not at all. We need to help people and do all that we can. But there are people in Sudan living in utter poverty who will sit down and they will pray before meals thanking God from the bottom of their heart for the abundance He has provided for them. And then Americans who are visiting are shaking their heads and going “You have relatives that have been taken away, stolen into slavery. You’ve had your arm cut off; you’ve been shot and you’ve lost one of your children to this. A woman has been raped by soldiers, and you are thanking God for His goodness.” And it is a rebuke to us but it also shows us how we have failed to be people with gracious hearts and grateful hearts to say “Thank you, Lord, for the very breath you give me. I don’t deserve it. It is a gift from you, thank you!” And I think we can learn from the poor to be grateful for all the ways that God provides for us that we don’t even get down to in our thinking because we have become so presumptuous. We have an entitlement mentality, and what happens is that if you think you are entitled to something, you are never thankful for it when you do get it; you are just resentful when you don’t get it.
Mercy Hope: That’s true. When did the persecuted Church begin to catch your attention and grip your heart? When did that happen?
Randy Alcorn: Actually, I got a burden for the persecuted Church when I was a young Christian. I was in highschool. I came to Christ when I was a teenager. One of the first books I read was Richard Wumbrand’s Tortured for Christ. Then I read God’s Smuggler, and I read other books that had to do with the persecuted Church. And my heart was just moved. Then, later Richard Wumbrand founded Voice of the Martyrs and we got involved with them. I just had a real burden on my heart for them. So, after I had written my first five novels, Tyndale House came to me and showed me this painting of this martyr who is being welcomed into the presence of Christ. Christ is embracing him. And they said, would you write a novel that kind of tells the story of this picture. And I said, “What is the story.” And they said, “We don’t know…that’s why we just want you to come up with a story.” I said, “Why don’t I think about and pray about it?” So they sent me this painting that I had hanging on my wall – so it was a set up. My heart was moved enough that I thought, I want to write a book about this. Where will I set it? Sudan? I finally decided I’m going to set it in China. I’m going to have an American businessman who went to Harvard with a Chinese student years ago and this Chinese student has gone back to be a Professor in a University in Bejing. They have completely lost touch with each other and this Chinese guy – his father and his grandfather were Pastors in China, but he doesn’t know the Lord – but he actually becomes a Christian while he is in America. And the American guy has gone exactly the other way. He was a professing Christian who maybe never had a real faith while he was in college and he has really wandered from it. And now he hasn’t looked to God for many years, but he is an extremely successful businessman. He travels back to China and they reunite. And now he sees his friend – reconnects with him, and finds out that his friend never became a University professor because Christians aren’t allowed to teach in the University. You can’t pray with your kids. If you do and you are caught, you’re in trouble. You can’t be a part of the whole underground church and the house churches and all of that. So, now he sees his friend undergoing persecution, but his friend, Li Shuan, has this joy that this businessman, Ben Fielding, does not have. And so here’s Ben, the successful American businessman, who should just be feeling sorry for and just pitying this guy except he’s the happy one and the guy from America is not. Again, you also don’t want to trivialize persecution “Well, everybody who is persecuted is happy.” Nonetheless, there is a joy that is found in Christ that many persecuted people experience that many un-persecuted people don’t. That’s just the reality. So that book which ended up wining the Gold Medallion Award for Best Novel of the Year, and we are very grateful for that. All the plusage from that goes to the Persecuted Church in one form or another – Voice of the Martyrs or something else. But that is what I said at first, the persecuted Church is still a real burden on my heart.
And one of the most encouraging things is the number of people that have said that as a result of reading Safely Home, God changed my life and my heart and my burden for persecuted Christians. And whenever I hear those stories, I just say “Thank you, God” because it is the work of His grace.
Mercy Hope: I saw in your newsletter that you had recently met with Joni Eareckson Tada to see the new Joni and Friends building. I was blessed to visit Joni with a mutual friend and Joni gave us a tour of the ministry building. I know Joni is a spiritual hero of yours. Can you talk about the connection with your new children’s book and the ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada?
Randy Alcorn: This is a new children’s book that came out from Tyndale. All the royalties from all the different books go to different ministries. Well, this one goes to Joni and Friends so all the royalties go to her ministry. And we were in Joni’s home; she had us for dinner and we were going to present the book to her. She didn’t know all the royalties were going to JAF. So, she actually had me read it to her. We were all sitting around the table with people from Joni and Friends, and the book was actually in galley format. So I’m sitting there holding up galley copies like this and it’s a little hard to read. So, I start reading the story, and it is about this boy and his Grandpa, and they both love baseball and all of this. Then it says, Nathan felt sad and know you see that he is in a wheelchair and his Grandpa has a walker and its hard for him to get around. As I’m turning the pages I get to this page and she is shocked as she realizes what is going on. Then it says his brother, Jared, and sister, Amber, really like to go to the front of the line with him. They say, “We don’t want to go to Disneyland without Nathan…because he gets to go to the front of every line.” He thinks it is really nice to go to the front of the line, but it would be nicer to walk.
So, we get a ways into it and Joni is crying. And then pretty soon she is sobbing. And it was so touching the way that she was responding to the story. Of course, I’m not telling you the whole story…but in the end Gramps has cancer and they are out laying under the stars together and they are talking about the Resurrection and the new earth…that one day everything will be new and they will have to wait until then. Well then Gramps is in the hospital and he gives him this baseball which is very special for reasons that become evident in the story. Eventually they have Gramps memorial service. And then when I turn to the last page there is the Scripture about the New Heavens and the New Earth “there will be no more crying or moaning in pain, the tree of life…and they will see His face, and they will reign forever and ever” (find exact scripture and reference). I open up this final page and Joni is completely broken down; she is weeping. And so Ken’s putting his arm around her and several times later that night she asked her husband, Ken, or my wife, Nancy, to go get this book and hold it up in front of her. We just had the publisher send her a framed copy of it. But I was so touched because she is, as you know, the real deal. She has such a depth. The books on her shelves are Charles Spurgeon and a lot of great theology. She is a John Piper fan and so am I…she’s all of these things…and her heart for people, it’s just wonderful. So when you said you met with her I had to tell you this story.
Mercy Hope: Did she show you in her art studio this picture of her and Ken dancing in heaven?
Randy Alcorn: No…she didn’t!
Mercy Hope: That’s about the most excited I saw her. She said, “Mercy, hand me that picture.” And the Pastor I think it was who sketched it had clouds and wheelchairs sitting in the background and it’s just her and Ken dancing and she just loves that! It’s just incredible.
Randy Alcorn: Which reminds me…in that final picture of the children’s book, I have the wheelchair and the walker as memorials and put flowers in them – and just have it off to the side. When I asked them to do it, I said – If you want to — if you think it looks good – you could put a cross distinguishing old earth and new earth. I thought that would be a nice little touch.
Mercy Hope: As we’ve talked one of the things that struck me is how many issues your ministry covers and you talk about. If you were to single one issue out maybe that would be a real heartbeat as far as looking right where the Church is in this point in history and this culture, what do you think is one of the most fundamental things that we need to be either called to repentance on or called back to or called up to?
Randy Alcorn: I think we need to learn to see the unseen. That we just are so caught up in the superficiality of this life that we are failing to see what really matters, what really is going to outlast this life. My book Heaven where I talk about the new earth reminds us to think in terms of the Resurrection. One thing I say in that book, and I think it’s a great challenge to the Church is “Don’t ever fall for the lie that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ that I’m past my peak.” So many people have so many regrets as they get older. I was walking around with an 80 year old man today. He was at this conference – he’s a friend of mine that lives in Indy – and he’s in his 80’s now. And we had to sit down and rest and he’s apologetic about it (and he shouldn’t be), but you know, a person can look back at their life and they can say, “I’ll never be able to play ball again; I won’t be able to do this or that.” Maybe now they are in a wheelchair. And they can look back and long for what once was or even think about the opportunities they missed. ‘We always longed to go to Africa; we always wanted to see Lake Victoria; we wanted to climb this mountain and never did.” I’m thinking, now wait a minute, don’t think you are past your peak; you’ve never reached your peak. We have never experienced the wholeness of life that God intended when He created human beings. We have never experienced the earth as the earth was meant to be. We live in a fallen world. We live in an earth that is under the curse, and not just in its obvious, sinful social ways, but the massive destruction – it’s a tortured planet. There is something wrong with it. Romans 8 promises us a coming redemption. It says, “The whole creation longs in anticipation of the redemption that will come with the resurrection of our bodies.” So, I just encourage people – think for the long haul, think of what’s ahead. Make that your reference point. Then, you will live life more strategically right now in light of that eternal kingdom.
Mercy Hope: Right. It just makes me think, a lot of people make a big deal about being heavenly minded, yet what you are saying is that if we have an eternal perspective it should affect everything about the way we live.
Randy Alcorn: Exactly, our problem is that we are so earthly minded that we are not of any earthly or heavenly good and, in fact, someone show me that person who is “so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good”. Now, if you mean by that that some people are kind of spacy and weird or something, that’s not “heavenly minded”. We are commanded in Colossians 3, “Set your mind above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” 2 Corinthians 3 says that “in light of the new heavens and the new earth, what people ought you to be in terms of life and Godliness?” The more we think of the world to come, the more we will bring this world closer to that. And a great example of that is William Wilberforce who here we celebrated this month the 200 year anniversary of the abolition of slavery in England, and this man labored his whole life for that. Now why did he labor as a Parliamentarian his whole life making incredible sacrifices, being ridiculed because he would take the slaves of chains and wrap them around himself and speak to Parliament. And people would just turn away – they didn’t want to hear about it. He labored his whole life and just days before he dies, slavery is abolished in England. Why did he do it? Because he was an evangelical Christian who loved God and said “It is worth the sacrifice to do it.” He had his mind on what was beyond this world. He was so heavenly minded that what he did resulted in the abolition of slavery. Wow!
Mercy Hope: This just made me think about the fact that one of the issues you talk about is racial reconciliation. And I just keep thinking about William Wilberforce versus these issues around racial pride and things like that. From our perspective we wonder, how can there be room in your heart for that kind of prejudice? But what do you think the cause and cure of that is for the Church?
Randy Alcorn: I think racial prejudice is rooted in Spiritual issues. I think it is something that goes very deep. Ephesians 2 talks about Jew and Gentile, and it says that the barriers that separate us come down in the gospel. And so the Church historically has not led the way like the Church should in this area. As a result of that the world has gone ahead for us. This is a statement that I make to Christians; I get up and say, “Thank God for the ACLU”, and then I will pause – and I will smile while I pause and I am looking at them. Now, I have been sued by the ACLU; I am not ignorant of all the dopey things that the ACLU does. I am very aware of those things. So, I think as someone who has been sued by the ACLU I am qualified to say that there are some good aspects to the ACLU. And, historically what I am thanking God for is what they did in the 1960’s while many Churches looked the other way. Because they said, this is wrong, and it was wrong! – that black children could not go to the good schools with the white children. That was dead wrong; I think God utterly disapproved of it and yet there was still segregation in Churches, there was still people looking the other way, there were Christians defending segregation, Pastors preaching in favor of segregation, and it was wrong. It is something that is a blight on the Church, and I was so moved some years ago when the Southern Baptist Convention made their public statement of repentance for having favored slavery in their past. And a lot of people were kind of like “We are past that now; that’s not even an issue anymore, why is anyone thinking about it?” But in my novel, Dominion, I researched this issue. Writing that book changed my life because the main character in that book was an African-American and in order to speak from that African-American’s perspective I had to learn, and I had to study. I read like 80 books written by African-Americans on black history and all kinds of stuff like that. Then I had to get a bunch of black readers who would read everything I was writing – friends and some of them new friends – and just say, “Go over this and tell me what’s right and what’s wrong.” I don’t want this book to sound like it was written by a white guy. One of the funnest things has been for people read Dominion, has been all the letters I have received from African-Americans saying “Thanks so much for writing this book because we have to help our white brothers and sisters understand.” In other words it becomes very clear to me that they think I’m black. And this is my one book where I said, do not put my picture on that book on the back cover. I don’t want anyone to see that I’m a white guy, and not because I’m ashamed that I’m white; I’m not – it’s the way God made me. But the point is that I don’t want to send a mixed message. One of the great emails that I got is from a black guy who said, “Nine members of my family have read your book. Eight of us are certain you are black; one of us thinks you might be white and I took a bet on it. I bet that you are black.” And so he says, “would you settle this for us?” So, I had been gone and I come back and I see this email and I open it and I laugh, and I’m going to go back and answer it. But then I see that about ten emails down it is the same guy and it is this letter back from him that says, “Never mind, I went to your web page. You cost me 50 bucks.” But the point with that is to deal with racial reconciliation in that novel was truly life changing for me, and I have many times since then been able to help people with this issue. And I hope there have been some real paradigm shifts in that area. To be real honest with you, it wouldn’t have happened with me if I hadn’t written that book. That’s one of the things I love about writing – because I love research – and sometimes I choose projects which force me to research issues that I ought to know more about and I want to know more about, but I never would otherwise. You know how many books do we have on a shelf that we never read – we kind of would like to, but we never do.
Mercy Hope: Right. Amen! And thank you for taking so much time to share with us today!
Randy Alcorn: You are very welcome!
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